“Can Anxiety Cause Urination Problems?”

Frequent Urination Anxiety Symptom

For many people the first symptom of anxiety that they experience is urination problems.

It can be scary, it can be overwhelming and it is definitely embarrassing.

Yes, you heard me right. Anxiety can cause you to have to pee.

And the urge can be very strong. And the annoying thing is that for the most part, when you finally get to the bathroom, you find that your bladder's empty.

On the other hand, when you're driving or you're in an exam and you physically cannot go to the bathroom, you suddenly feel like you're about to burst... and you feel scared and ashamed that might accidentally wet yourself. 

Sound familiar? Read on.

My Story: Strong Urge to Visit The Bathroom... While Driving

For me, frequent urination had become like a “spidey sense” in that it let me know that I was feeling anxious long before I became consciously aware of my anxiety.

In my case it was driving that triggered this sudden urge to pee. Whenever I would get into a car and start the engine, within about 5 to 10 minutes I’d start to feel the need to pee.

Driving always made me nervous and anxious but I for a long time I didn't make the connection between my urination issue and driving anxiety.

At first, I didn’t really pay much attention to it. I thought it had something to do with the safety belt pressing against my bladder. But when I checked, I noticed that the safety belt was pretty lax, in fact, I was able to stick my fingers in between the belt and my stomach so that couldn't be it.

That’s when I decided it was time to look into the connection of anxiety and urination problems and see if there was a connection.

Could Frequent Urination Be a Symptom of Anxiety?

When people first experience urination problems, typically their first reaction is to think that it could be a sign of either prostate cancer or diabetes.

And that's a perfectly valid concern. Since these two conditions can also cause frequent urination, my advice is to go see your doctor and make sure that in your case it’s neither of those.

If you can rule out all other possibilities, then there’s a good chance that your urination problems are caused by anxiety.

Below are some of the most common ways people describe their urination issues:

  • If you frequently feel the urgency to pee – oftentimes soon after you just urinated.
  • Some people feel they need to pee even though they haven’t been consuming liquids, and when they go to the restroom they produce little or no results.
  • If you can identify certain stressful situations that always make you want to empty your bladder. Situations like exams, driving, flying – any situation that makes you feel nervous, stressed out and uncomfortable.

The challenging thing about urination problems is that even if anxiety is the culprit, it’s difficult to identify it beyond a shadow of a doubt.

You see, it could happen that over time you learned to avoid certain uncomfortable situations that would usually trigger your anxiety and therefore your urination problems "stopped" for a while. In reality of course they didn't stop, you just started avoiding the trigger altogether.

But then when you can no longer avoid the stressful situation that caused you to have to pee, it could come back seemingly out of the blue.

So it’s very important to identify what kind of situations trigger the urge to pee for you personally.

How Does Anxiety Affect Your Bladder?

As you now know, anxiety can trigger the urge to pee – if you’re stressed.

And that’s the key right there. The stress response of your body is a miraculous mechanism that evolved to get you out of a dangerous situation alive.

Now you might be wondering what that has to do with urination at all – and that’s a pretty good question actually.

You see, urine is the liquid waste that your body collects over time and stores it for when it’s okay to dump it. Usually when you’re in a restroom of some kind.

The more urine is stored in your bladder, the more powerful the urge is to empty it.

And that’s the thing. Urination can create a powerful and distracting urge whenever your bladder gets full enough. And it takes time... and you need to stand still.

Now is that something that you want to deal with while you’re fleeing from a mountain lion or fighting a rabid dog? Not really, right?

Fortunately you’re body knows that. It knows that urination is a nuisance when you’re in a dangerous situation. In fact, it’s the last thing you want to do when you’re trying to run away from something dangerous.

So in order to make sure that you aren’t distracted by the urge to urinate when you’re in a fight or flight situation, your body’s stress response secretes hormones that make you want to pee as soon as you feel a sense of threat.

It's all because it wants to get urination out of the way so that you won’t have to worry about it when you’re running or fighting for your life.

That’s the short version of it. Of course there’s a whole lot of chemistry doing its magic in the background but that’s pretty much the gist of what’s going on.

How to Reduce Frequent Urination Caused By Anxiety

The thing you have to keep in mind is that frequent urination is basically triggered by a powerful stress response.

If you can identify what causes that stress response, then you’re on the right track.

However, you may not be aware of the fact that you’re stressed out at all. Some people have learned to live under tremendous amounts of stress to the point that it doesn't register with them consciously anymore. They just grin and bear it and move on.

If you're one of those people, frequent urination could be your body's way of telling you that your system is in a heightened state of stress.

(As I’ve mentioned before, make sure you consult with your doctor to rule out any other diseases that could be causing urination problems first!)

At any rate, the first thing you want to do is you need to track down what it is that triggers your stress response.

For me, it was driving.

Getting into the car, the thought of piloting this huge metal construct that could kill an innocent human being if I as much as sneezed and closed my eyes for a split second was very stressful for me.

My challenge was that I needed to first realize that my frequent urination always occurred while driving a car.

Once I realized that, I was able to catch myself worrying about it. I was able to notice that I was thinking negative thoughts in my head. And those negative thoughts fueled my stress response while driving.

And that’s pretty much all it takes. Once you learn to catch yourself obsessively worrying about something – and you realize that your fears are irrational, something magical happens.

All the nervousness and all the stress just evaporate and some kind of blissful relief takes their place.

The key is to expose the thoughts that are unconsciously driving you into an uncontrollable stress response.

Final Tips to Stop Frequent Urination

However, if you need some quick life hacks that can stop frequent urination right away and are 100% healthy, here’s my best advice:

  • Drinking less can reduce frequent urination - but be careful with this one because it can backfire! You don’t want to be dehydrated, especially in stressful situations. Remember that you need plenty of water to function well throughout the day.
  • A quick burst of exercise can naturally reduce your stress levels very quickly. It is after all what “fight or flight” is all about: running quickly or fighting with your bare hands to save your life. Anything that imitates that is basically like telling your body that the fight is over, it can calm down using its own language.
  • You could also want to experiment with consuming a bit more salt. Salt helps the body retain water – and if you follow my advice above and start exercising, you’ll want to refill some of the salt that you lose with sweating anyway.

If you have urination problems, make sure you see your doctor first. And if they tell you that your urination problem is anxiety-related, then don’t worry – and most importantly, don’t feel ashamed. You’re not alone with this issue.

If you have anything to add, or you have any questions, leave a note in the comment section below and I’ll reply to you as soon as I can. 

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Comments

I suffer with anxiety related, bladder problems. It's a viscous cycle - you get stressed which causes the bladder to become overactive and then you stress about your bladder which makes things even worse.
Not only do I urinate frequently but sometimes I have a hard time emptying. My doctor believes it's completely stress-related and psychological and that I'm too young for prostate problems (37) It's amazing how anxiety can affect your body in so many different ways.

Hi Paul,

Thank you for commenting! You're spot on, it really is a vicious cycle. It's like self-fulfilling prophecy in a way. Anxiety makes you urinate frequently. So you end up worrying about it which makes you even more anxious. And then your elevated level of anxiety makes frequent urination even worse.

Anyway, good luck in your journey fellow anxiety warrior and may the calm be with you.

Have a great day,
Levente

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